Eight Latin American nations have denounced Venezuelan authorities’ “excessive use of force” against civilian protesters after the death toll from anti-government unrest in Venezuela rose to 36.
Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Paraguay condemned the increase in violence in the oil-producing nation and urged the Venezuelan government to respect human rights of its citizens.
“We condemn the excessive use of force by Venezuelan authorities against civilians who are protesting government measures that affect democratic stability and cause the loss of human life,” they said in a statement from the Mexican government.
The statement comes as a mass of students battled tear gas-throwing police officers in demonstrations across Venezuela’s capital as the two-month-old protest movement showed no signs of letting up.
“We are students, not terrorists!” students chanted as they marched in Caracas on Thursday.
Soldiers bathed hundreds of protesters in tear gas at the Central University of Venezuela, with medics in gas masks attending to students with bloodied faces and limbs.
A 38-year-old police officer died in central state of Carabobo after being shot during a Wednesday protest that had hundreds of thousands of people on the street nationwide, authorities said.
Opposition leaders said 30 were injured in Thursday’s student demonstrations. Overall, more than 1000 have been arrested.
Protesters are demanding immediate presidential elections.
President Nicolas Maduro accused the opposition of attempting a coup and has responded with an initiative to rewrite the constitution.
Venezuelans were also shaken on Thursday after rumours about the health of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.
President Nicolas Maduro’s leftist government, facing a wave of major opposition protests since last month, later issued a short “proof of life” video in which Lopez said he was fine.